Thursday, 29 December 2011

How to go something and stay it.

That's is a very vague title, but it was that or a long and possibly confusing one with specifics within it. This is for those wanting to join a subculture, or change their dietary make-up, and anything similar. As a goth, a wiccan, and a vegetarian, I'm using stuff I've read, stuff I did, and even my own mistakes to help y'all.

  1. Research. This is where Mallgoths and wannabe hipsters go wrong. Look up a variety of sites that are specific to your interest. Find as much information as possible, even if it is negative or just a little bit of genuine info; all your other sources will help you determine what's true and what's false. For music-based subcultures, listen to as much of the music as possible. Again, make sure you know what the real music is. If you can, then talk to people already part of what you wish to join. My best mate has been a veggie for two years, and he helped me get all the needed help for going vegetarian. There are also forums and virtual communities that can be either general or specific. I recommend Mookychick and it's message-board.
  2. Plan before you do. Find recipes and brands you enjoy if going veggie or vegan. Figure out what part of the subculture's fashion you wish to use. If said subculture has several fashion sub-sets, such as how goth has cyber, punk, corporate ect., then decide on which sub-set(s) you will use. If you're converting to another religion, make preparations, such as buying key items and learning how to pray/worship/meditate/cast spells.
  3. Ease into it. Don't suddenly start point-blank refusing meat or dressing in PVC with acid green cyberlox. Not only will you have those close to you freaking out, but you could quickly get bored and having it become "just a phase". Start by choosing veggie options at restaurants, wearing a single element of subcultural fashion (such as plain dark clothes, a kitsch wristband), or basic worship/spells/meditation.
  4. Don't give in to your peers. I'm not a big supporter of violence, so if you get people criticising your choice in a negative manner, just tell 'em to get lost. If it turns into a hate campaign against you (and you'll sure as hell know when that is) then feel free to deliver a headbutt or smack if the time feels right. They don't control you, and everyone has at least one thing that is not liked about them. If the response is neutral/civil, however, just explain why you chose to get into whatever it is you've committed yourself to. If met with stereotypes and myths (who hasn't the old "all emos cut themselves" statement), simply tell them why it's a load of crap. Make sure you're nice about it though; a witch speaking aggressively when explaining why she and her fellows do not use curse magic will just feed the trolls and haters.
  5. The transition never really ends. You'll always have room and opportunity to develop and get deeper into the interest. This is where the whole concept of easing into it helps. Even now, my personal style keeps changing, and will keep on changing for years to come.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

How to get the most out of charity shops.

  • Be open-minded. Or, at least, not determined to get a specific item. Many a time I have walked into Oxfam expecting there to be a pretty black parasol, only to be greatly disappointed. Don't go looking for objects that are usually hard to find on the high street, because that way you aren't left feeling like your browse was a waste; alternatively, you could end up finding that item by pure chance, which is always a great surprise. If you want something quite exact, such as a sheer Victorian blouse, prepare to be looking through numerous shops. On a similar note...
  • Avoid harsh budgeting. There is much variety of prices between shops, and some have store-bought goods that are dearer than the donated goods. Thus don't walk into Bernardo's thinking the prices are as low as they are in Oxfam, nor expect the new scarves at the British Heart Foundation to be 3 quid like the second-hand ones. However, it is advisable to have a limit on how much you spend, for there could be a case of manic-buying if you decide that £20 is enough for a top that turns out to be three quid. Having, say, a tenner aside for a couple of dresses is a good idea, as it will cover the wide price-range amongst charity shops.
  • Some things will never be in a charity shop. By law, they are not permitted to sell large electronics, furniture, or house appliances, such as washing machines and sofas, unless they are specialised in selling that sort (there's an Arthritis Research homeware shop in my town, for example). Also, most charity shops don't accept/sell magazines, vinyl, or cutlery unless there are in sets or, in the case of cups and the like, if they are one-of-a-kind or originally sold alone. However, some shops will sell cassettes, video games ect.
  • Don't just stick to one charity shop. Self explanatory, really. Variety is the spice of life, is it not?
  • VOLUNTEER! As a volunteer at my local British Heart Foundation, I cannot stress enough how beneficial it is. Firstly, there is the discount you gain at the shop; it is usually 25%, which can, for large splurges, be a huge bonus. You can sometimes even snag some things that are rejected from being sold for free. I got myself a lovely black/grey tie-dye vest due to it being out-of-season, and a black feather fan before that. Secondly, there are the professional positives. Not only does it make you look good on your CV (which, if you are hoping to enter university, is important), but it also gives you the opportunity to develop skills for future jobs, notably for positions in retail. Such skills include communication, teamwork, and dealing with the infamous "bullshit customers".